The NHL Draft will be held virtually again in 2021, and the Predators will be ready to make their selections from the friendly confines of Bridgestone Arena once more.
Nashville currently holds eight picks in the Draft - including No. 19 overall, and three of the Top 50 selections - allowing plenty of opportunities for General Manager David Poile and the organization to continue to restock the prospect cupboard.
That first chance will come just over midway through the first round on Friday night, and as always, the focus will be on taking the best-available player, regardless of position.
So, will that individual play down the middle of the ice? Here are five centermen who could hear their names called by the Preds in Round 1 on Friday night.
*All scouting reports produced by NHL Central Scouting
Cole Sillinger, Center - 10th-ranked North American Skater, NHL Central Scouting
6-0, 197 lbs. - Sioux Falls, USHL
May 16, 2003 - Columbus, Ohio
- Sillinger was named USHL Rookie of the Year in 2020-21 after leading all first-year skaters in goals (24) and ranking second in points (46) in just 31 games played with Sioux Falls of the USHL.
- He skated for the WHL's Medicine Hat Tigers in 2019-20 where he ranked fourth among all rookies with 22 goals and 53 points in 48 games.
- His father, Mike, was a forward who skated in 1,049 career regular-season games spanning 17 NHL seasons with a dozen different teams (240g-308a-548pts, 1,049gp), including 31 games with the Predators in 2006. He is the only player in NHL history to play for 12 different franchises.
- Scouting Report: "A strong center who can play a power game and drive to the net - hard to contain in tight quarters. A strong skater with good moves to elude checking. He possesses a good offensive game based on instincts, vision and puck skills. Always a scoring threat with a knack at finding ways to get open for chances. Capable of playing with a physical element.
- Current Player Comparable: John Tavares
Francesco Pinelli, Center - 15th-ranked North American Skater, NHL Central Scouting
6-0, 185 lbs. - Kitchener, OHL
April 11, 2003 - Hamilton, Ontario
- Pinelli spent the 2020-21 season in Slovenia on loan to Jesenice in the Alps Hockey League where he tallied five goals and 11 points in 13 games played.
- He helped Team Canada win gold at the 2021 Under-18 World Championship including a hat trick and four-point game against Switzerland. Pinelli finished the tournament with four goals and 11 points in seven games to tie for third on his team in points.
- He ranked fourth among all OHL rookies in 2019-20 with 18 goals and 41 points in 59 games for the Kitchener Rangers.
- Scouting Report: "An offensively gifted player who brings creativity and flash. A powerful skater that plays with an edge. Strong, accurate shot that quickly jumps off his stick with the ability to one-time the puck. A confident puck handler that can dangle around defenders or lower his shoulder and power through. The full package of skill, attitude and physicality."
- Current Player Comparable: Nazem Kadri
Chaz Lucius, Center - 12th-ranked North American Skater, NHL Central Scouting
6-1, 185 lbs. - USA U-18, NTDP
May 2, 2003 - Lawrence, Kansas
- Lucius played 13 games with USA Hockey's National Team Development Program's Under-18 Team in 2020-21 after recovering from a knee injury. He averaged a goal-per-game and a 1.54 point-per-game pace after recording 13 goals and 20 points in 13 games.
- He represented Team USA at the 2019 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge earning a silver medal. He was named a tournament all-star after leading all players in goals (7) and points (10).
- Lucius is expected to play for the University of Minnesota in 2021-22.
- Scouting Report: "An NHL-level skater with speed and quickness to separate himself from checking. A smart and creative player with the hands and moves to make plays in tight areas. Can beat defenders one-on-one or thread a pass through traffic to a teammate. Is competitive in all zones with a very good work ethic and a consistent 200-foot game."
- Current Player Comparable: Sebastian Aho
Xavier Bourgault, Center - 13th-ranked North American Skater, NHL Central Scouting
6-0, 172 lbs. - Shawinigan, QMJHL
Oct. 22, 2002 - L'Islet, Quebec
- Bourgault ranked seventh in the QMJHL with 20 goals and 40 points in just 29 games played.
- He tied for the Shawinigan team lead in points in 2019-20 when he recorded 71 (33g-38a) in 63 games.
- He was a finalist for the QMJHL's 2020-21 Frank J. Selke Trophy, awarded annually to the league's most sportsmanlike player.
- Scouting Report: "A skilled offensive player with very good hands and creativity with the puck. Possesses a quick shot with an excellent release and goal-scoring ability. He has a great feel for the game with good hockey IQ and vision that allows him to process the game at a high pace. Elusive speed and quickness with the puck, strong on the powerplay - a consistent point producer."
- Current Player Comparable: T.J. Oshie
Fedor Svechkov, Center - 6th-ranked International Skater, NHL Central Scouting
6-0, 187 lbs. - Togliatti, RUSSIA-2
April 5, 2003 - Togliatti, Russia
- Svechkov split the 2020-21 season between Togliatti in Russia's second division where he produced 5 goals and 15 points in 38 games and their junior team where he produced at a point-per-game pace with four goals and 15 points in 15 contests.
- He helped Russia earn a silver medal at the 2021 Under-18 World Championship where he ranked 10th in tournament scoring with four goals and 10 points in seven games.
- Svechkov is expected to play for St. Petersburg of the KHL in 2021-22.
- Scouting Report: "A smart, playmaking center with very good offensive instincts. An energy player that can dominate the game with his strong skating. Likes to play a physical game using his size and weight to his advantage. Wins battles and effective in the face-off circle. A mobile player that creates scoring chances with surprising moves around the net. Strong character and a good winning attitude."
- Current Player Comparable: Andrei Svechnikov
Photo of Cole Sillinger courtesy of Jasen Robbennolt (Sioux Falls, USHL)